Talk:Contact explosive

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I have some trouble with this article. It seems to be suggesting that "contact explosive" is a formally defined term when, to the best of my knowledge and belief it is simply a phrase, which could mean different things to different people (but frequently refers specifically to nitrogen triiodide). To the extent that the article tries to be a list of extremely sensitive explosives, it suffers from severe vagueness: there is a massive variation in the degree of sensitivity of the listed materials. (Dry nitrogen triiodide has been known to explode from loud noises or a fly landing on it; nitroglycerin will explode from a strong shock but can be handled with care, and when carefully packed it has been successfully transported over mountains in horse-drawn waggons; while cast picric acid has a history of being shot out of cannons.) So, what exactly is this article trying to be? -- Securiger 12:29, 8 May 2006 (UTC)


Hey man, I think you need to get a life. Wikipedia is one of the greatest resources on the web, and I found this list of highly volatile substances very helpful. It is very appropriate to list these items together as they are related in the sense that they are all "contact explosives." They all explode with no outside application of heat or introduction of another substance. They all explode on CONTACT.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by 86.138.182.219 (talkcontribs) 19:16, 17 May 2006 (UTC)

  1. Wikipedia is one of the greatest resources on the web. Yes it is, but only because we make an effort to keep articles accurate. Inaccurate articles are useless, and sometimes worse than useless.
  2. They all explode on CONTACT.
    1. Firstly, that is how most people would understand the phrase "contact explosive", but part of my complaint is that this is not the definition the article is using. It claims that a "contact explosive" is any explosive that is extremely sensitive to "heat, light, sound, or physical pressure".
    2. Secondly, on this list, only nitrogen triiodide is so sensitive it will explode at mere contact. Others are dangerously sensitive and will explode if dropped or crushed, but not from mere contact; still others are very spark sensitive but only moderately shock sensitive; and one is actually quite insensitve to shock when pure or finely powdered but has a bad reputation because impure samples may become very shock sensitive and large crystals somewhat so.
  3. Wikipedia:No personal attacks.
  4. Incidentally I also just had a look at the external link at [1], and it is riddled with errors. It looks like they took a list of all sorts of materials and mixtures which could become explosive under any circumstances, and — perhaps to prevent it from being used as a list of recipes — split it into individual items in alphabetical order. For example, they include some strong oxidisers which might be dangerous when mixed with certain fuels, but are perfectly safe to handle by themselves; and they include several solvents which are peroxide forming on prolonged exposure to air, but in themselves are completely nonexplosive. There are also a few genuine explosives, e.g. amatol, which however are not at all shock sensitive and require a booster to detonate. It also contains outright errors: syphnic acid presumably should be styphnic acid; tetraze probably tetrazene; but what the heck is aluminium ophorite? Aluminium lithiophorite is a moderately well known natural mineral, but not remotely explosive. etc.
-- Securiger 08:42, 18 May 2006 (UTC)
  • I also think this is a good article, but agree with Securiger that the current definition of "contact explosive" is inaccurate and confusing. What this article needs is a concise explanation of the conditions under which each of the substances mentioned will explode, including the physical force that needs to be applied (ie just a light touch or a blow from a hammer?), and should be restricted only to explosives which explode because of a physical blow (whether that is from a pressure shockwave, or whatever).Jaganath 19:19, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Contact explosive is a term that is used to describe substances which will explode without the introduction of an exteral chemical reaction. While the exact measures which can detonate the materials in the article do need to be listed; there is still value in including the substances as such, which are sensitive to shall we say... "Non-human induced, naturally occurring environmental stimuli" Heat, light, pressure, etc. apply. Introduction of chemicals therefore does not. Take everyone's favorite wickedly powerful molten melting 'explosive,' (thermite) as a negative example. In a well made blend there is simply a mixture of (iron oxide) and powdered (aluminum). Now, keep in mind the word sensitive. You could mold thermite into a basketball and play a game in a temperate climate with no problem at all. (Maybe whilst wearing gloves) That's because thermite requires an abnormally hot catalyst to set off the irreversible oxidation reaction. Now consider (nitrogen triiodide), it is a contact explosive because a very slight pressure... like a few hairs or a feather, or even the weight of superior particles in a pile of the stuff can cause it to explode violently. There is a clear difference there; so keep the article, but be complete, what exactly can set off each individual substance? - As stated above. The art of explosion is always in the ignition. EonBlade 16:46, 24 May 2007 (UTC)